Qemah reigns in Coronation Stakes
Edited Press Release
Jean Claude Rouget secured back-to-back victories in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-G1) following the decisive 1 3/4-length victory of the Gregory Benoist-ridden Qemah on Friday.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer traveled nicely for Benoist in midpack before being unleashed on the outside inside the final furlong. The three-year-old lass displayed a potent turn of foot to quicken clear of her rivals and record a comfortable success, giving Rouget his second Royal Ascot winner and Benoist his maiden victory.
"Qemah is a top-class filly,” Rouget said. “She ran well in the French Guineas against some very good fillies. She showed real grit today and I am very happy.”
Ervedya was successful in the Coronation Stakes last year for Rouget, who was pleased to record another victory in the contest.
"For me to the double in this race is like a childhood dream,” he stated. “I hope to get some more wins here because for me it is the best racing in the world."
Benoist was full of excitement after Qemah gave him his first Royal Ascot winner.
"The last two furlongs were very exciting. I would like a really big drink now!” he grinned. “To win here, the Coronation Stakes, is fantastic. This is a good present and I would like to thank Jean-Claude. It is my first winner and first Group 1 at Royal Ascot. It is amazing for me. It is like a dream. I can barely speak as there is so much emotion.”
The Frenchman, the retained rider in France for owner Al Shaqab Racing, gave the 6-1 shot a perfect ride, settling her out the back before delivering a withering run down the outside to land the Group 1 contest.
Qemah finished third in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) (Fr-G1) last out and the jockey revealed that the lack of pace that day was to blame for her defeat.
"She has run well – everything went her way today," Benoist said. "When she ran last time in France, it wasn't a great pace and she couldn't quicken. Everyone was trying to quicken at the same time and, when that happens, it is very difficult to win.
“The main thing with this filly is pace. She needs a strong pace. We got that today and that is why she won. I think everything was perfect for her today – the pace, the ground, everything. I think the trip is the right trip for her. She wouldn't want to go any further. The main thing is that there is a good pace in the race.
"The filly prefers a bit of cover and for her to get this is very important. She relaxed well in the race and, at the beginning of the straight, I felt she had a lot of power left. She really produced a good turn of foot at the end. My hair stood on end!”
"Gregory got her settled today and that was important,” said Harry Herbert, racing advisor to Al Shaqab Racing. “She traveled with so much fuel in the tank today and she quickened like a really smart filly. She has beaten a wonderful field of fillies, it is fantastic and it has been a wonderful week.”
Herbert was unsure about the filly's future destination but suggested the Falmouth (Eng-G1) as a possible port of call.
"She is in the Falmouth,” he said. “Whether that come too soon who knows but we will look at that. I think we will let the dust settle.”
"I have no targets at the moment for her,” Rouget agreed. “We will look at the program with the team, it's too early to say where she will go next."
Nemoralia finished second at odds of 4-1 in the Coronation Cup under Olivier Peslier. The More Than Ready filly, trained by Jeremy Noseda, ran third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf (G1) at Keeneland last October.
"I can't complain,” Noseda said. “The conditions were what they are; she's run great, she's finished second in a real good race. There will be days for fast ground and we'll just look forward from here. We took a chance, and she's rewarded us with a big run – I can't ask more than that."
Asked where she might run next, he replied, "We'll get her home and see how we are and make a decision from there."
Third in the Coronation Cup was the Aidan O'Brien-trained 8-1 shot Alice Springs, ridden by Ryan Moore, who finished a short-head behind Nemoralia.
Qemah photo courtesy Champions Series via Twitter